Floating Face Down
by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - Yeah, Paramount own them.

A pre-Extreme Risk story.


'Wrapped inside a twisted world
I can't decide what is even real anymore;
As though I ever knew'

- Holy Tears


The first time was easy; a simple step-up from what I normally used to force out some of my frustration.

A holoprogramme. One of the obvious ways to vent my anger. I'd used them at my brief stay at the Academy, and on Voyager.

And the first time, it was easy.

I had created a programme; one that showed what happened to the Maquis. The friends I never had. The family I never had.

I couldn't watch it. After less than a minute I shut it down and ran one of my old programmes; nothing fancy, just a hologram of a Cardassian for me to fight. I *needed* to get the anger, the absolute sense of helplessness out. I had to do something.

It wasn't enough. With the safeties on wasn't enough. It had to be real. I had to be in danger. I had to be in pain; it was nothing compared to what they had experienced.

"Warning: disengaging safety protocols presents extreme risk of injury."

I knew that - it was what I wanted. With each blow, each grunt, each wince, I saw them. Atara... Roberto... Stefan... Teresa...my brothers and sisters. There was no chance now - no matter how faint it had been before - of me ever seeing them again. They were gone.

Gone. Dead. Slaughtered.

I was careful not to get hit in the face, and unsteadily made my way back to my quarters. I knew Tom was on duty so he wouldn't be waiting to 'surprise me' - I wasn't in the mood for it. I stumbled in and pulled all my clothing off. Naked, I found the medkit and pulled out the dermal regenerator.

I began my work. I'd never been particularly good at first aid, but I covered up the evidence.

I didn't use the hypospray. The pain was still there.

I wanted that.

It was so easy to justify; of *course* I was devastated by what happened, of *course* it made sense that I wanted to kick someone's ass, even if I got injured in the process. That made it all the more satisfying. And if I continued to run the programmes, well...that made sense, too. You couldn't expect recovery that quickly.

And then, one day, I stopped feeling anything. I almost didn't notice at first, then realised that day-by-day I was slowly feeling less about anything - Tom, Chakotay, work, life...it meant nothing.

There was the pain. There was always the pain.

The programmes became more complicated. It was no longer about ignoring or beating out the pain, it was finding it again.

No one noticed. Tom suspected, I think, but more than anything he wasn't willing to believe that it was happening.

My behaviour didn't change, my attitude didn't seem to change. And, if something more was needed, confirmation that I really was fine...I would subtly press one of the many concealed bruises. The agony would frequently rip through whichever part of my body was injured but instead of gritting my teeth, or howling in pain...I would smile.

It always convinced anyone who was curious. Anyone who may have wondered.


The smiling has stopped.

And no matter what I do, I can't find it again.

I think they're beginning to notice, and I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do. Only that I can't stop.

I can't stop.

I pull on the outfit. I enter the holodeck. I run the orbital skydiving programme.

There is nothing else I can do.

I jump.


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